Mall developer Westfield is shelling out about $1.2 million every day from now until October on its San Diego shopping center expansion.
The project, at a total cost of about $600 million, will add 251,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space along with a 15,000-square-foot event space in the current phase.
The developer — like many others — is moving to merchandise its centers with tenants not typically found in traditional malls, looking for first-to-market and other hot concepts to woo visitors. Westfield UTC boasts Amazon Books, TravisMathew, Bonobos, Warby Parker and Pirch among other tenants. In late summer it will see the opening of Room & Board.
To further ensure it’s bringing in a fresh mix of retailers to its revived mall, Westfield flew in by helicopter a small group of retailers Friday to walk the construction site, also providing lunch, to introduce brands, such as Me Undies and AG, to the center.
Westfield executive director of leasing David Ruddick confirmed there are still a few more spaces to be leased within the current phase.
Ruddick, in an interview with WWD earlier this year, detailed how Westfield is thinking about the leasing of its centers, a strategy unique to each locale but generally driven by the rise in importance of food, health and fitness and home.
“We really use this word of community, but how do we become that community gathering place,” Ruddick said at the time. “In any project you do, you like to influence how customers interact but also respect who they are and what their lifestyle is….We don’t want to be seen as purely a retail destination. We want to infuse ourselves into the community.”
Shifts in the retail landscape have also led Westfield to have conversations with different types of fashion companies than in the past, Ruddick pointed out, and the traditional labels of digital versus traditional brands are becoming less and less relevant in addition to what has typically defined a mall these days.
“There’s no such thing as a digital retailer and a physical retailer,” he said. “There’s no such thing as someone having brick-and-mortar. It is an infused conversation. There is a total convergence of the conversation so with any retailer we talk about how the store fits within the network and then how, through Westfield Labs, do we align with their digital strategy? And then with Westfield Brand Ventures, how do we align with their eventing strategy? That’s the greatest change that’s happened in a very short period of time in our industry.”
Among the more than 90 new retailers that will come online at Westfield UTC with the October unveil are a flagship Apple store, fast-growing yoga brand Alo Yoga, Aesop, Javier’s, Din Tai Fung, True Food Kitchen, Sweetgreen and SoulCycle.
Brokerage firm CBRE will absorb more than 32,000 square feet when it relocates its central San Diego office to the center, while a new, 149,000-square-foot Nordstrom with a café component, will move from within the center. What’s to be done with what will be Nordstrom’s former space has yet to be announced but will be part of the center’s third phase.
Westfield UTC will also see the developer break ground next year on Westfield’s first residential project, a 300-unit luxury tower.
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